custom revolution



From Los Angeles, CA, USA



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If one person represents the origin point of the Alt.Custom movement, it must be Shinya Kimura. Working since 1992 in Japan with Zero Engineering, he developed a highly personal chopper aesthetic that became known as “Zero style.” Zero bikes incorporated his several distinct fascinations, including samurai armor and insect morphology, which he carried into a new project in the mid-2000s, as the Los Angeles-based Chabott Engineering. His 2005 masterpiece, “Needle,” was on display at the Legend of the Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance in 2006, where it sat humbly in a display of extravagant, enormous customs from then-dominant TV star builders. Shinya Kimura’s work fit no extant category of custom motorcycle, and was clearly a very personal project, in contrast to the mass-market orientation of his fellow customizers. Parked amidst triple-chrome and metalflake choppers with enormous V-twin engines, the “Needle” could not have been more different. It was built around an unpolished vintage Triumph engine, with a bricolage chassis assembled from blackened scraps and metal oddments, with rustic, handhewn aluminum bodywork of strange shapes. The custom world was busy shouting, while Shinya Kimura whispered; seeing the “Needle” in 2006 was refreshing, intriguing, and deeply exciting.

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The motorcycles emerging from the LA shop of Chabott Engineering are objects of universal curiosity. While the subsequent 12 years of exposure to his work has normalized it within the Alt.Custom scene, it still inspires questions – are these machines Sci-Fi or retro, insect or armor? Built among the earliest examples of Shinya Kimura’s new project, “Needle” and 2007 “Sleeper” are significantly different from his later works, being among his first experiments with a new style. These early machines included the construction of unique chassis from scrap parts or frames welded together from multiple origins. All of his work includes his distinctive style of bodywork of hand-hammered aluminum, but the “Needle” and “Sleeper” use totally fabricated frames that are built around vintage motors, and are especially unusual in Kimura’s artistic oeuvre.

Shinya Kimura has been featured on The Vintagent and Ride Apart.

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Follow the Builder: Chabott Engineering